The No. 5 University of Wisconsin volleyball team (19-5, 15-1 Big Ten) took care of both No. 7 Minnesota and Michigan State this week, regaining sole possession of the Big Ten standings and securing the tiebreaker with Minnesota.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers (20-4, 14-2) have had the Badgers’ number for many years. Prior to this season, UW had won only two of their previous 20 matches.
The Badgers have matched those two wins in their two contests with the Gophers this year.
In their first meeting in mid-October, the Badgers dominated the match, crushing the Gophers to the tune of a 25–18, 25–14, 25–20 sweep.
This time around, the sets were a bit closer in Minneapolis. Each set was decided by three or less points with the last two sets finishing at 30–28 and 29–27 in favor of the Badgers.
Wisconsin finished the contest with 82 kills and 95.0 points — both school records in the 25-point rally scoring era.
Setter Sydney Hilley finished with a career-high 78 assists, which ties the record for most assists in UW history in a four-set match.
Outside hitter Molly Haggerty dominated the game with a season-high 24 kills at a .404 hitting percentage, but her play in crucial moments was even more impressive.
With the third set tied at 28–28, Haggerty notched back-to-back kills to take the set and ended the fourth set with three consecutive kills to close out the match.
Wisconsin held two-time All-American Stephanie Samedy to just five kills for the second time this year. The 6-foot-2 junior outside hitter has posted single-digit kills in her last five matches. In her first two seasons at Minnesota, she only recorded single-digit kills 11 times.
The Badgers traveled home to face the Michigan State Spartans (14-12, 5-11) Saturday night.
UW swept the match, but it was anything but easy.
Against Minnesota, the Badgers relied on their offense. Against the Spartans, UW needed their defense.
The Badgers held the Spartans to a .154 hitting percentage, specifically by forcing MSU’s top three hitters to negative hitting percentages and a combined 12 kills.
UW also sputtered offensively with a .213 hitting percentage. The lone bright spot was Haggerty.
The redshirt junior continued her strong week with a game-high 13 kills as All-American middle blocker Dana Rettke struggled to get going. Her .167 hitting percentage was her lowest this year.
Head Coach Kelly Sheffield even replaced Rettke early in the second set with Nicole Shanahan before inserting her back in the game. She eventually closed out the second and third sets with kills.